CAAS and NTU Establish Singapore's First Research Institute for Air Traffic Management

Together, both partners have committed over S$70 million for ATM R&D activities

The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) and the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) have signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) to establish the Air Traffic Management Research Institute (ATMRI), Singapore’s first institute dedicated to research and development (R&D) in air traffic management (ATM). Over the next five years, CAAS will provide S$50 million1 to fund ATM R&D activities undertaken by the ATMRI, as well as ATM experts for the research projects, while NTU will provide in-kind contributions of S$22 million, including research manpower and facilities.

The ATMRI is a key element of CAAS’ larger effort to build Singapore as a Centre of Excellence for ATM2. Through the conduct of high quality ATM R&D of world class standard, the ATMRI will develop innovative solutions to catalyse ATM transformation in Singapore and the Asia Pacific region, harmonised with ATM developments globally for interoperability. In addressing the ATM needs of Singapore, the ATMRI will contribute to enhancing safety and efficiency of air traffic, thereby maintaining Singapore’s position as a leading air hub. The ATMRI will also contribute to progress towards seamless ATM in the region, in the face of robust air traffic growth,” said Mr Yap Ong Heng, Director-General, CAAS.

Professor Freddy Boey, Provost of NTU, said, “NTU has established globally recognised strengths in engineering and science and is well placed to lead in this area of ATM Research. Our School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (MAE), which will be championing this initiative, is one of the largest mechanical engineering schools in the world, with globally recognised expertise in design, advanced manufacturing, robotics, aerodynamics, human factors engineering and operational research.” Professor Boey continued, “Through the new Institute, NTU will be able to translate more of our fundamental research - what we call yet-to-be-applied research - into feasible applications in the real world, not only generating knowledge and know-how but also providing critical manpower needed for research in ATM. It will help our efforts to build up and nurture intellectual and human capital for ATM R&D in Singapore and beyond. With a vibrant ATM R&D community in Singapore, we will be able to retain a strong research talent pool in the long run.”


The CAAS-NTU collaboration will see synergy in CAAS’ domain knowledge in ATM, and NTU’s research capabilities and talent. As a leading air navigation services provider in the region, CAAS has vast expertise and experience in ATM operations and has contributed actively to ATM modernisation and harmonisation efforts in the region. NTU is a world-renowned research-intensive university with deep and diverse research expertise, including in the areas of human factors, operational research, and information management system design and development, all of which are highly relevant to ATM R&D.

The ATMRI will undertake research projects that seek to create air traffic capacity and enhance efficiency of flight operations, starting with the areas of:

  • Air-Ground Traffic Management

    : Improve runway throughput through more efficient management of air traffic and airspace around the airport.
  • Weather Forecast and Information Managemen

    t: Enable advance planning of air traffic flows by minimising weather-induced disruptions to fight operations.
  • Aircraft Separation Management

    : Optimise aircraft-to-aircraft separation to boost runway throughput by using better prediction and modelling tools.
  • Human Performance

    : Enhance human-machine interface to reduce human errors arising from increased automation, and optimise workflow efficiency.

The ATMRI will also collaborate with international entities with interests and expertise in ATM. This will facilitate knowledge and expertise transfer to contribute to jump-starting ATM research efforts in Singapore. Partnerships with such foreign entities will also inject global perspectives to the work undertaken by the Institute and ensure that the concepts and solutions developed here are aligned and harmonised with international developments.

The ATMRI will have an office and laboratory of over 1,000 square metres of space at NTU.

1 The S$50 million is drawn from the S$200 million Centre of Excellence for ATM Programme Fund that was established in September 2012 to provide seed funding for the establishment of research institutes and thinktanks and the conduct of R&D in ATM in Singapore.

2 CAAS is building Singapore as a Centre of Excellence for ATM. As a Centre of Excellence for ATM, Singapore will house a vibrant and self-sustaining eco-system, comprising research institutes and think-tanks, industry players, academia, and international and foreign ATM entities and aviation stakeholders, contributing to a wide range of ATM R&D activities to develop new concepts and solutions to meet the unique requirements of Singapore and the region.

Memorandum of Agreement signed between Professor Freddy Boey, Provost of NTU (left) and Mr Yap Ong Heng, Director-General of the CAAS (right)

Memorandum of Agreement signed between Professor Freddy Boey, Provost of NTU (left) and Mr Yap Ong Heng, Director-General of the CAAS (right), to establish Singapore’s first Air Traffic Management Research Institute to conduct research and development in air traffic management.

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